911 center makes changes after Cecil Mills death - FOX 10 News | fox10phoenix.com

911 center makes changes after Cecil Mills death

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Medric Cecil Mills (Photo courtesy of the Mills family) Medric Cecil Mills (Photo courtesy of the Mills family)

It may be hard to believe, but until recently, 911 operators in the District were not required to double check addresses of emergency calls. They do now following the death of Cecil Mills, who collapsed right across from a firehouse.

That was just part of what the director of the city's 911 call center told the city council on Wednesday.

Jennifer Greene told the city council’s judiciary committee human error was to blame in not putting Truck 15 on the call to help Mills.

Truck 15 was in service and in the station across the street, but the firefighters never left the building and the truck was never put on the call; this information was left out of the report written by the deputy mayor for public safety.

What follows is an exchange between Councilmember Tommy Wells and the director of the 911 center.

Wells: "Does protocol prevent someone from saying, ‘You know what? We now see on the computer someone right there.’ Does protocol prevent them to say you can respond right there or you cannot do that because there is someone else being dispatched to that site?

Greene: “No, it does not, and that is part of the overall investigation from the OUC (Office of Unified Communications) perspective, that the updates come in and they should be read, and if things change, then the changes should be made to implement that.”

Wells: “Is that a human relationship or is that a protocol in the computer system?”

Greene: “That's a human relationship.”

Mills waited at least nine minutes for help to arrive after five firefighters assigned to Truck 15 refused to leave their building and an ambulance was sent to the wrong quadrant of the city.

The fact dispatchers never put Truck 15 on the call -- even though the computer-aided dispatcher recommended it three different times -- was not included in the Paul Quander report.

Greene also told Wells she has implemented changes in the way addresses are verified.

"Our radio operators had gotten away from verifying the address with the units that were responding,” said Greene. “And so one of the things that we have done immediately was to have them go back and verify.”

When Mills collapsed, the first caller to 911 told the call taker they were in Northeast D.C., but he wrote down Northwest and that is where the initial help was sent.

The director of the 911 center says a task force established to look into the Mills case has met twice so far and there are plans to meet again.

Greene also told Wells in all of last year, there were just five cases in which the addresses at dispatch were wrong.

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